In our super-connected, wired-up world, stress permeates life like the air we breath. Stress management is essential. No one wants to be the unhappy recipient of a stress-related disease.
FOUR WAYS STRESS LEAD TO WEIGHT GAIN
Stress can cause weight loss in the short-term, but weight gain creeps-in over the long-haul.
1) Stress hormones
When the brain detects the presence of a threat, real or perceived, it triggers the release of chemicals that tell the body to handle the threat. Once it wears off, a stress hormone called cortisol, hangs around and starts telling the body it needs food for replenishment.
2) Built up of Belly fat
In the long-haul, this shows up as belly fat. Our bellies build extra layer of visceral fat, an environment that facilitates the flow of chemicals in the body, including those that trigger inflammation. This in turn increases risks for heart disease or diabetes.
As if its not bad enough, too much cortisol hanging around our body slows down metabolism.
3) Anxiety and emotional eating
Feeling “wired-up” during stressful periods make as fidgety and activated, triggering “emotional eating” with cravings for starchy foods.
4) Lack of sleep
Research shows that worrying is a major cause of insomnia. Lack of sleep may disrupt the functioning of appetite chemicals. We begin to crave carbs when we are tired or grumpy from lack of sleep. It also erodes our will and control against tasty but bad food.
STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING STRESS
Studies show that meditation reduces stress and helps people to be more mindful with their food choices.
Read up or join mindfulness programs. Great mindfulness programs help people cope with stress and recognize triggers that lead to binge-eating during stressful times.
You can kill two birds with one stone with aerobic exercise. First, it reduces cortisol levels in your blood, the chemical that makes you fat, and it also releases the happy chemicals in the brain that relieves pain and improves mood. Second, it revs up your metabolism.
Some people find yoga and tai chi effective, not surprising since they are the amazing combination of exercise and meditation.
3) Social support
Your social support includes your family, friends, neighbors, and community members that are available to you in times of need for psychological, physical or financial help. Having this supportive network provides you with a buffering effect from stress.
4) Nutrition and supplements
Eating the right kinds of food may also help you stave off food craving and strengthen your immune system. Eat it alone or as part of a dish.
- Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that causes the brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical.
- Garlic is an anti-oxidant, which aids our body when our immunity is compromised
- Chamomile Tea has a calming effect
- Cashews are a good substitute for salty chips and are rich in zinc
- Berries are anti-oxidants that are rich in Vitamin C
- Oranges are a vitamin C power-house
- Walnuts are great as a snack or as part of a salad, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols
Nutritional supplementation is one of the pillars in stress management, by fortifying our immune system when it is compromised during stressful times. Look for Vitamin C, zinc, anti-oxidants, polyphenols, flavonols. Make it part of an arsenal in stress management.
LIVING WELL IN A WIRED-UP WORLD
Stress can cause hormonal havoc and unleash certain diseases, use these tools and resources to your advantage.
1) The American Institute of Stress. “What is Stress?” stress.org
3) Greenberg, Melanie. Psychology Today. Why we gain weight when we’re stressed and how not to. 28 August 2013 Posting.
4) Prevention Magazine. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/13-healthy-foods-that-reduce-stress-and-depression
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